A Notre Dame psychology professor spent 10 weeks tracking 110 adults asking half of them to report the number of lies they told each week and the other half to stop lying completely or not to make false statements; however, they could still omit the truth, avoid answering the question, and keep secrets. Anita Kelly had all of the participants take a weekly lie detector test and complete questionnaires about their health and the quality of their relationships.
In addition to revealing that both groups lied less, the group that was instructed not to lie experienced health benefits as a result of telling three fewer lies each week. Three fewer lies each week resulted in four fewer mental health complaints and three fewer physical health complaints. Those who made an effort to stop lying also reported improved relationships, confirming long-standing research indicating that people with good relationships are in better health.
Lying is believed to trigger the release of stress hormones, increasing heart rate and blood pressure and reducing your white blood cells, which leads to tension headaches, lower back pain, and a rapid heartbeat. Author of Trust Rules: How to Tell the Good Guys From the Bad Guys, Linda Stroh, provided a thorough description of the process that comes with lying: “It takes a lot of negative physical and mental energy to maintain a lie. We have to think before we answer and we have to plan what we say and do, rather than saying and doing what comes more naturally,” she said. “We waste a lot of precious time covering our tracks rather than spending that time in positive ways, doing good things.”